The Winchendon Courier
Serving the community since 1878 ~ A By Light Unseen Media publication
Week of October 3 to October 10, 2019


The Profit Potential of Promotion

I was reviewing local news this week, as I put together this edition of the Courier, and I ran across one of those phrases--you know, the ones that make you stop skimming, go back and read it again. An article profiling a local entrepreneur began, "Twenty five years is a long time to maintain a business in Toy Town."

My eyebrows went up an inch. Really? I thought. Longer than anywhere else, on average? Why on earth would that be?

We certainly have businesses with longevity in Winchendon. I've been getting ice cream at Murdock Dairy since the 1970s. Stone-Ladeau Funeral Home was founded in 1875. Little Anthony's restaurant was a favorite of my parents. The Carriage House restaurant and the Countryside Motel have been operating as long as I can remember. Winchendon Furniture opened in 1939. The Toy Town Pub has been serving customers for 31 years. Pattie's Jewelry opened in 1985; Morin Real Estate over 35 years ago. As far as I know, both laundromats have been chugging along for decades. There are many more.

It is true that Winchendon has lost a lot of manufacturing companies and a lot of small businesses. Toy Town has too many vacant buildings and store fronts; we've seen too many earnest, optimistic dreamers start up a store or an eatery only to close after a year or two.

But this isn't unique to Winchendon. The truism runs that 90% of all small businesses fail within the first year. There are many reasons for this, most of them coming down to inexperience and the impossibility of predicting the future. (I started my small press in 2007! Remember what happened in 2008?)

But in many cases that I've seen, small businesses languish for a critical, and wholly correctable, reason.

Not enough people know that they're there.

Promotion is hard work, and it's often something people with talents in creative work, management and organizing aren't very adept at doing. For one thing, it's tediously redundant. You have to repeat your message over and over and over. Studies have found that you have to get your name or your message in front of people at least seven times before they'll remember it at all. And you can't stop once you've got their attention. No, that's when you triple your efforts.

So many people think they've got it covered if they have a Facebook page and collect "likes" and followers. They think advertising is a waste of money.

But what I learned as a publisher is that free promotion is worth exactly what you pay for it. I'm paying to promote the Winchendon Courier, for example. To promote effectively, you can't just reach the people who are looking for you. You have to reach the people who aren't looking for you--at least, they don't know it yet. And by the way, this applies just as much to non-profit and community organizations promoting their fund-raising events and activities.

I want to see Winchendon thrive. There shouldn't be any reason why a business in Toy Town doesn't make good money and last much longer than twenty five years (and that includes the Winchendon Courier...141 years and counting!). The bottom line is, every business in Winchendon has the same goal that I do. We all want to get the word out about how much we can offer to our town.

So let's get to work!

Inanna Arthen

Winchendon Days

Remembering the Winchendon Police Department 1960-1963

Growing up in Winchendon I always wanted to be a policeman. Thus, in 1960 while attending Fitchburg State, I turned twenty-one and asked Chief Robert Hildreth if I could get a part-time job as a Winchendon Police Officer. He said yes and after he had the Board of Selectmen appoint me a “Special Police Officer,” he issued me a badge, gun, handcuffs, and told me to buy a uniform at Cobleigh’s Clothing Store. Cobleigh’s was in the building where the police station is now located. Not only did Cobleigh’s sell men’s clothing, but also police uniforms and Boy Scout uniforms.

A police officer was required to be present at all high school dances, and my first duty was to be present at a high school dance, for which I was paid five dollars. In addition to dances, I worked a few Friday and Saturday nights from 8:00 p.m. until closing at the “Tropical Lounge,” which was at the corner of Central and Chestnut Streets. The bar paid me fifteen dollars a night. However, Chief Hildreth soon assigned me to regular police duties and I was paid an hourly rate of $1.33 by the town. I would spend Sunday night through Thursday nights at school, but on Friday I would get out of class, thumb a ride to Winchendon, change into my police uniform, and work from 5:00 p.m. until about 1:00 a.m. On Saturdays I would work the day shift or swing shift and on Sundays the day shift. On Saturdays and Sundays, the officer or officers with whom I was working would take turns being on patrol, walking Central Street or sitting at the desk at the police station. When I had a week vacation from college, I would be assigned a specific shift for the week, and during the summer months I would either fill in the shift for the officers who took vacations or work other shifts as needed. At that time a work week for the police department was forty-five hours. When I worked a full week, I would be paid a week’s salary. As it turned out, if I worked forty-four hours part-time, I made a little more than if I worked a forty-five-hour week and received a week’s salary.

When I was on the force, the Police Station was located on the west end of the Town Hall at the corner of Front and Pleasant Streets. The front door faced Front Street and on the Pleasant Street side of the building were a number of parking spaces for the cruisers and other vehicles. As you entered the front door there was a small area facing the “Front Desk” with a few chairs against the west wall. There was a locked closet that held extra police equipment and office supplies. I remember that in the closet were a couple of surplus World War II Thompson sub-machine guns. Behind the front desk was a hallway that went to all town offices and off of the hallway was a back room with a conference table in it. This room was used for interviews, etc. Below the Police Station in part of the basement of the Town Hall was the lock-up, which was accessed by steps from the sidewalk. The lock-up consisted of three cells, each with a single bunk, a blanket, and a chamber pot for people to relieve themselves. The cells were not iron bars like what is normally pictured, but rather were made of thick steel plates with multiple 6-inch round holes so that a prisoner could be observed. At that time, it was not required to have an officer or a guard with the prisoner. We just locked them up, went back on patrol, and checked on them a few times until they made bond or we took them to court. The court was upstairs in the old Joseph’s building where Cumberland Farms is now. The presiding Judge was Arthur Evans, Esq. These cells were for males only. When females were arrested for routine offenses, two officers would transport them to the Gardner Police Station to be held overnight and then pick them up to appear in court. However, if a female was arrested for a serious crime and had to be searched, Special Police Officer Josephine Martin was called. Mrs. Martin was a tall nurse/administrator at the Winchendon Hospital and could handle herself very well.

During this time Winchendon did not have an ambulance. The Police Department had two station wagons as cruisers. In the back of one were a stretcher, a small bottle of oxygen, and a basic first aid kit. If somebody needed resuscitation, the Fire Department had that equipment. Because we were the closest and the quickest to send help, we would often receive calls regarding accidents or an emergency across the state line in New Hampshire. Chief Hildreth always told us to respond and to do what we could until the local authorities arrived, but to remember that we could not make an arrest across the state line. One time we received a call about a possible drowning at Zip pond in Fitzwilliam. Two of us responded and Clayton Ashmore responded in a fire engine. William Gormley, a local diver, arrived and an hour later he located the body.

Another thing that Chief Hildreth always insisted upon was that we check buildings after businesses closed. He always said that if a door was found left open or a place broken into, he wanted us to call and notify the owner, not to have the owner call and notify us. Many a night -- hot, cold, dry, or wet -- I walked from one end of Central Street to the other end checking front and back doors and windows. I remember one night while checking Mathieu Ford on Central Street, I discovered that they had left a large garage door open. The shop foreman was called and he was embarrassed, but glad that I had found the open door. He told me that I had no idea how much money some of the equipment in the dealership cost.

We had radios in the cruisers, but foot patrols did not have radios. There were two small red lights on Central Street. One was on a telephone pole on the southwest corner of Central and Grove Streets. If an officer was walking a foot beat and saw a red light on, he would go to a telephone somewhere and the operator would give him a message and instructions. Likewise, if an officer was at the Station and wanted to get hold of the officer on foot patrol, he would call the operator and ask her to put on the red lights and give her the message and/or instruction to relay to the patrol officer. Also, if only two officers were working and both had to go out for some reason, they would call the operator and notify her. If a call came in, she would put the red lights on. An officer had to make sure that he did not stray away from Central Street for too long.

Near the end of the summer of 1963, I left Winchendon to begin my law enforcement career with the Federal Government in Washington, D.C. Over the twenty-six years I spent in law enforcement I have seen many changes -- some good, some bad. However, I do know that the people of Winchendon should be thankful for the dedicated and wonderful officers that I worked with during my tenure on the Winchendon Police Department. A few of us from the 1960s are still around, but most have passed on. God Bless them.